By Andrea Shalal and Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that the U.S. economy would have a “rough quarter” due to the coronavirus, but the underlying fundamentals were sound and it was a great time for long-term investors to put money into the United States.
Mnuchin told Fox Business that small businesses would receive details on Monday on where and how to apply for some $350 billion in emergency virus-relief loans, and the Trump administration was ready to ask Congress for more funding if the current program did not suffice.
“I expect that with all of this liquidity we’re putting into the economy to get through the next couple of months, when we reopen, we’ll be ready and the economy will surge back,” he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a $2.2 trillion aid package, the largest ever, to help offset the downturn caused by sweeping shutdowns aimed at containing a pandemic that has infested 141,136 people in the United States and killed 2,471.
It includes the $350 billion in small business loans, $500 billion to help hard-hit industries, $290 billion for payments of up to $3,000 to millions of families, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems.
Mnuchin said the small business program had strong bipartisan support and he was confident Congress would approve more funds if needed.
He also backed the idea of providing hazard pay for nurses, doctors and others responding to the health emergency caused by the virus, but gave no details.
Trump said on Monday that his administration was seeking to secure hazard pay for health care providers who were in direct contact with the virus.
Mnuchin said he agreed, adding, “I think that makes a lot of sense. When we get to the next bill, that’s definitely happening.”
Mnuchin said the $2.2 trillion rescue package and another $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve would help the country weather the next eight to 12 weeks.
For now, he said, the United States remains an attractive option for investors.
“U.S. investments are still the best investments in the world. And for long-term investors, it’s a great time to continue to invest in the U.S.,” he said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler)